With so many good TRs out there and so many more to come, I thought I'd take my thoughts and display them buffet-style, allowing the reader to pick and choose. I generallly go for the first person stream-of-consciousness style, but hey, why not try something a bt different; plus, my time is heavily rationed these days. <strong>The Travel</strong> Unless you like the descriptions of airports and/or airlines, is anybody really that keen on arrival and departure stories? I mean...<em>Got to the airport...blah blah blah....ambien and two vodkas...blah blah...LAX SUX....yada yada yada...mile-high club...etc...etc...splashed seat during turbulence...</em> However, for those who use limo/driver services, one small note here: I had a substandard experience with CLS limo from the airport. Even though it was provided courtesy of Mandalay Bay, I found that no excuse for a driver who arrived late and who did nothing to try to make the transit from McCarran to hotel in the least way comfortable or hospitable. I suppose I was a bit disappointed that I was riding solo, with Sin changing her arrival to the day before and all, but that was her gain. Uh, you go girl. PS I still tipped the standard. <strong>The Accomodations</strong> As many probably know I'm generally a big fan of the Mandalay Bay properties- I've given them alot of business over the years and they've given me some decent comps in return; they even seemed to have loosened up a bit last autumn. Well, not no mo. Although I got a standard room comp'd (along with some food and the Foundation Room access) it seems like my host got much more "corporate" with me this go-around. He rigidly stuck to a comp formula system rather than the slap-on-the-back freebie and seemed to do alot of mental accounting along the way. It didn't turn me off completely, but let's just say the MB is not necessarily a shoe-in for next years' home base. I still like the place but am no longer obsessed. It's hard to turn down a free room, etc...but if I can get a casino rate at another property, why not? Heck, MSS treats me nicely and I don't even have a host there. But one distinct advantage the MB still holds is those pools...damn! And especially with the weather we got for the Madness. I gave the travelwenches my room keys on Saturday afternoon before the tourney and walked them out....the bikinis were out in force and a real eye-opener... <strong>The Eats</strong> Thursday eve- Pullman Grille...definitely the call. I supposed I was good and liquored up by the time I pulled myself from the dice pits and headed over with Becky and John. Beautiful surroundings...handsome mahogony and dark wooded paneling, subdued 19th century decor...they were definitely taken by suprrise when a large chunk of BuNa showed up to chow down. Let's see....Angy, Sin, Larry, Marty, Al, Patti, Jer and the lovely Tonya, and of course Terry. If I forgot any I'm sorry. Perhaps I was a bit too liquored up because I vagely remember my filet and rice, but I'm told I downed it in record-breaking fashion. I'm also told I grabbed one of Larry's King legs like a rabid dog and started tongueing and snarling heavily. Lar didn't seem to mind one bit, I think. Good time, slightly rushed, as we could not keep Don waiting...In the end, Becky and I were able to pool together enough food comps to take a sizable bit out of the tab. Thanks, Becky! Friday eve- Tao...second time for me at this place. Now I'm not big on celeb sightings; I like this place for the food, specifically the appetizers. I could easily make a meal out of the appetizer sampler. Jennie, Ashley, and I had 9:00 reservations so we cut out of the BuNa IP party a bit before some real memorable events (regrettably). We sat at Tao's bar and sipped on overpriced "specialty" Tao martinis and before long were seated on the upper level. Between the chicken with peanut sauce, the shrimp rolls, and the spicy beef I hardly noticed that Keanu Reeves was seated at the next table over. For an entree I had the encrusted hoseradish-encrusted Kobe filet and I distinctly remember Ashley face deep in some kind of talapia special. Saturday- Red Square....a routine stop on my Vegas tours. Atmosphere right for socializing as a group with better than average food. But what I love best are the Vodka flights and caviar. Enjoyed the meal as well as the company of Angy, Andrea, Mike (Joe Schmo), and Ash-Jen. Seemed like we all enjoyed ourselves; I do believe that Angy avoided the vodka flights and there was a trapped bird in the place which made her visibly nervous. <strong>The Entertainment</strong> Thursday night was Don Rickles. Friday night was Seamless. Comparing/contrasting: *Comparable in cost...at least intitially... *Both joints started off with a skinny blond onstage; on Thursday it was followed by a pudgy old guy; on Friday it was followed by a skinny brunette *When onstage, Rickles remained right side-up *The brass onstage Thursday was handled by distinguished musicians in black tuxedos; the brass onstage Friday was handled by indistinguishable bimbos in black thongs *Thursday I called Ron during the performance; Friday I texted many during a "performance".... *The main performer on Thursday eve was bald up north; Friday eve's main performer was bald down south *The climax of Thursday evening occurred mid-act. *Thursday I laughed so hard I almost required an underwear change. *Where else could one see Larry King in the flesh two nights' running? <strong>The Tourney</strong> When I arrived at the IP poker room Saturday afternoon I was feeling as out of place as Ann Coulter at an Indigo Girls concert. Seasoned amateurs, Sticky decked out in full poker-battle attire...hell, what was I getting into (probably a $55 poker lesson). But Mikey put me at ease immediately, asking for a contribution to the Dougie headhunter fund. Lots were drawn, and I was seated at Table #1. I fully expected to pull an act similar to <em>Seinfeld</em>'s Kramer in the "Master of my Domain" episode....<em>("Well, I'm out.")</em> But lo and behold, I was able to play like a rock, sitting in my foxhole and painfully folding pocket nonsuited face cards while the Howitzers fired at each other over my head. Somehow I managed to fold my way to the final table, winning only a small pot or two. It was kind of nice seeing guys like Terry and Al standing around watching a guy like me still seated. After that the cards just came; a trained monkey could have taken it from there (no offense Ron). The final hand may have been pocket tens, but the true finallie in my mind had come a few hands before. I was on the big blind with Tony C to my left and Dougie as dealer. I believe Tony had the big stack and pulled pocket kings. Having never even seen pocket aces before in my life, there could not have been a better time for those bad boys to nestle themselves in my hot sweaty hands. My only regret is not slow-playing the moment of truth but I was in such shock I guess I just didn't think of it. Roar of the crowd. Tony C...out (not bad for being awake 48 hours straight, Tony). Anyways, there I was in the end, downing the contents of my medal and being adorned with the bracelet by the lovely Patti. Nice game, fellas and ladies. And thanks again Doug for the whole thing. <strong>The Tables</strong> Pretty staightforward. I usually do well at dice, or at least tread water, but this trip I got hit by a fucking freight train. I've never seen such crappy rolls-> 2-12-6-8-5-9-sevenout (repeated more times than I can count). Just butt-ugly; except for one single decent roll on Friday every session was a prison shower ass-pounding. To paraphrase crash Davis, I couldn't hit water if I fell out of a fucking boat. Let's just say that my poker winnings took only minor sting out of my dice pit pain. But hey it's Vegas, and with my fuzzy accounting skills, anything that's left in my gaming budget at the end of a trip is considered winnings, no? (Insert rolleyes avatar here). The Crowd BuNa...it was a bit of a leap for me abandoning my regular Vegas crowd for Buffoon Nation, but I'm so glad I did. I suspect I only scratched the surface of the true buffoonery, but what I did see was classic. IP Party, Poker, Sticky with her poker visor, Angy & the killer birds, Al poking me in the back at Rickles and exclaiming "This is fucking perfect,"....I wish I had made Hogs n' Heifers. Thanks Andy for the ride and great conversation back to the MB on Saturday. Drinks at Mix with Joe Schmo and the gals. Seeing Jer and Tonya again. Becky making fish faces from across the final table, just before she was eliminated just out of the money. Mikey's spicey beavers. Meeting Shock. Rescuscitating Larry's stack with a head-to-head early on. Sin, Sin, and more Sin. Touching Marty's robe (and searching for the hand sanitizer). Patti pulling up next to me in the final few hands for some moral support and a neck rub. Chatting with Falcon Rob and LV Dawn afterwards. Finally meeting Doug and getting to buy him a drink. Several drunken but entertaining conversations with Terry (heh). Numerous others mixed in JoeVegas, MissChips...Snert Alert (who didn't fold on my really bad bluff)....thanks for a great time, BuNa. <strong>The Final Thoughts</strong> *I need to get my crew back to Madness in March. *Although a good dinner, being a witness late into the IP party would have been more rewarding. * I gained seven pounds in three days. No kidding. * Taking daytime naps would have helped. * This new texting business added a whole new dimension to the trip. * More dice for fun, less dice for comps. * Reminder: Pack bracelet for MM V. * Get in Wednesday, leave later on Sunday. * Parasol Up after dark seemed nicer. Damned early DST. * Great seeing again/meeting for the 1st time members of BuNa.